Lenin must be rolling over in his grave. The great man’s tomb in Red Square
looks directly at the world-famous GUM department store that used to be a
by-word for shortages, bureaucracy, queues and utterly slovenly service. Today,
it almost makes Harrods look like Debenhams.
A handshake a few days ago between Presidents George W Bush and Vladimir
Putin put the seal on the last major obstacle thwarting Russia’s 13-year-long
attempt to join the World Trade Organisation. There’s still a few hurdles, but
it now seems certain that Russia will be admitted.
In many ways, this is a symbolic move. It signifies how much progress has
been made since the fall of the Soviet Union and the birth of what they now call
‘New Russia’ some 15 years ago. There will, as China has found since it was
admitted in 2001, be much more change to come. Intellectual property rights were
a discussion point between US and Russian negotiators in recent weeks, while the
way Russia flexes its energy muscle with its neighbours is a bone of contention.
Corruption remains a problem, as does the universal application of the work
ethic. The corporate governance learning curve is robust, as many organisations
grapple not just with the post-Soviet era, but the post-Yeltsin era, too – a
period that saw the creation of many dollar billionaires. As for the rouble,
it’s less than a decade since the country’s last currency collapse.
Sadly, as I write this, British newspapers carry stories that sound more like
the new Bond film than a modern market economy as one unfortunate ex-KGB agent
lies critically ill in a London hospital, the apparent victim of an attempt on
his life that he blames on his former colleagues.
It’s against this tumultuous background that I am delighted to announce the
launch of the Russian edition of Financial Director. Aktion-Media, an
independent publishing company with a strong reputation in the areas of fi
nance, accounting, tax and law, will be publishing FD under licence in
Moscow from January 2007. Some articles will be translations of those appearing
in the UK edition, while many others will be generated by Aktion-Media’s own
editorial team to meet the unique needs of Russia’s growing legion of finance
directors. Everyone here on the London team looks forward to working with our
new partners who now stand alongside our friends in Warsaw who have published
Financial Director Polska since spring 2005.
Demand for information and ideas in such emerging markets is huge. Managers
there crave the opportunity to compete with Western companies, whether on home
turf or abroad. Their success will transform the lives of millions of people.
We’re thrilled to have a front-row seat.